By Melissa Butz
Bishop Erwin Krautler has been a missionary in Brazil for the past 55 years and is one of the main advocates for married priests participating in the Amazon Synod.
On the third day three of the Synod, criticism arrived, with Pope Francis firing back at those attacking. The Synod has been meeting behind closed doors since the morning of October 7.
The Holy Father used the stage in St. Peter’s Square during his weekly General Audience to call out those still condemning the Amazon meeting.
“To attack a member of the Church is to attack Christ! Even those who are ideological, who do it
for the purity of the Church, attack Christ,” Pope Francis said.
A majority of these attacks have been against the idea of “viri probati,” which means ordaining married men as priests, ideally elders with proven virtue. The theme was also spoken about on Wednesday’s press briefing.
“When speaking about the proposal of viri probati, this doesn’t mean changing the law on ecclesial celibacy,” said Paolo Ruffini, Prefect for the Dicastery for Communication. “This law, like all human laws, could have exceptions in concrete cases. It was also said the lack of priests in the Amazon is not linked to celibacy. They said even ordaining a married man priest may not resolve problems,” he said.
Yet, Austrian Bishop Erwin Krautler presented a different experience from his life in Brazil for the past 55 years.
“I will tell you will total sincerity –there is no other option. The indigenous people do not understand celibacy,” said Bishop Krautler, former prelate of Xingu, Brazil.
He said that upon arriving in an indigenous village, he would be asked about his wife and feel bad he didn’t have one.
Bishop Krautler also explained the essential role of women, saying they lead many indigenous priestless communities.
“So, the woman, what are we going to tell her? ‘Yes, you’re a person, yes you’re very good,'” he asked. “But then we need concrete solutions, and I’m thinking about women’s deaconate. Why not?”
Bishop Krautler explained how the main reason he and others are pushing for these ordinations is because they want access to the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist.
The bishop said some of the people in the Amazon region are even becoming Pentecostal, or other religions where the Eucharist is not so important, since many are able to receive it only a couple times a year.